Cat: Chewy and Dog: Ellie were the first adoptions of 2011.
The Golden Retriever mix named Ellie, was the first dog to find a home in 2011. Both Ellie and her new adopted family come with an interesting story, as Melissa Humphries and her daughter had spent a lot of time searching for the right dog.
“The hit and misses, the heartbreak of wishing that connection was made so that I wouldn’t walk away from a dog who just wanted a home [were so hard], especially with a 10-year old,” explained adopter Melissa, who found the process emotionally trying.
Melissa was not just looking for any dog; she was looking for a dog that would help her daughter with mental illnesses that challenges the girl mentally and socially on a daily basis.
Both Melissa and her daughter were victims of domestic violence, and they celebrated their 8 year anniversary of leaving this past December. This past has stayed with them though. Both mother and daughter struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar disorder. The daughter has also been diagnosed with Aspergers, a form of Autism.
They moved to Austin a year and a half ago and Melissa said she and her daughter have found comfort in the local community. “[My daughter] has made such progress during this past year and I really credit the resources that I have found here in Austin that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. There is a different attitude in our community in regards to this [mental illnesses] and I feel that it helps her move forward in her life,” Melissa wrote. “Being able to adopt and train a dog to be used as her therapy dog is just one more positive thing that helps her continue to be successful.”
Melissa was nervous about bringing a dog into the mix, but her daughter’s therapist had recommended it. Melissa said that within a matter of seconds after meeting Ellie and seeing her connection with her daughter, she knew that they were meant for one another.
“I saw [Ellie’s] picture the night before [New Year’s Day] on APA’s website. I didn’t show my daughter, who gets emotional going to animal shelters, as I didn’t want to get her hopes up,” Melissa shared. “We arrived right on time the following day with a couple dogs in mind and when we met with a staff member I was up front and honest. I told them this dog is going to be my daughter’s therapy dog.”
Before adopting, they were informed that Ellie was infected with heartworms and they would need to continue treatment, but that did not deter Melissa. She said that they viewed the disease as something that they would treat and move forward. “My daughter has a disability, to me, a dog that tests positive for heartworms doesn’t change my mind, we still wanted her,” Melissa explained.
A Snowshoe mix 1.5 yr old kitty named Chewy was the first cat to find a home in 2011. Chewy has been renamed Eliot. Adopter Rebecca explained they weren’t really looking for a new family member just yet. Their five year old cat ‘Shakes’ recently passed after a long and hard illness. The family wasn’t quite ready to jump into new cat parenthood yet, even though things felt a little off without a fourth.
“We knew Shakes would be a tough act to follow. And we still weren’t quite sold on the idea even after visiting APA! that evening [New Years Eve], despite having met several wonderful cats and one amazing volunteer” Rebecca said. “We decided to come by on New Year’s Day because we knew there would be cats we hadn’t met the night before…and because we just thought it would be a fun, festive thing to do, what with all the New Year’s activities. We thought it would be fun to see the first adoption–who knew it would be us?!”
Rebecca continued to explain what made them decide to adopt Chewy, “Of course, the first thing that drew us to Eliot was her looks. So superficial, I know! But that Snowshoe Siamese coloring and those bright blue eyes are very striking and eye-catching. She’s an absolute beauty. But what kept us coming back to her, even after looking at other cats, was her loving personality and that “special something.” It’s hard to describe, but sometimes you just know when a cat and a family belong together.”
Rebecca said that even though Shakes could never be replaced, it has been nice to feel like their family has regained that missing piece of the puzzle.
The heartwarming story of Ellie and Chewy’s adoption is just one of many that Austin Pets Alive! has facilitated over the last few years. Specifically, this year’s adoption results prove the organization’s ability to increase number of lives saved, bringing the city as close as it has ever been to its no-kill goal.